With a new Olympic cycle underway it was a summer of change on the curling scene.
Nowhere was that more evident than here in Manitoba where all the top rinks underwent makeovers, including Kerri Einarson’s team.
You could call them Manitoba’s new curling dream team.
After making it all the way to the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts final last spring, Einarson broke up the band and brought in two of the provinces top skips to join her. Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur both came on board and they also recruited another former skip in three-time Alberta champ Val Sweeting.
It was instant chemistry with three wins in their first four events on the World Curling Tour.
“We weren’t expecting too much just cause we’re an all new team and all different positions other than myself,” Einarson said. “Things have just seemed to really be gelling.”
“Definitely didn’t expect to even win an event in our first month,” Birchard said. “I think we’re all pretty surprised. I think we expected there to be a little bit more of a learning curve.”
“We were preparing to not do well actually for the first bit,” Meilleur said. “And it’s been going really well.”
Einarson’s new teammates are mostly playing unfamiliar positions with Meilleur at lead, Birchard at second and Sweeting playing third, but they’ve all embraced their new roles with new challenges.
“The sweeping — I was training all summer to get ready for that,” Birchard said. “So I’m feeling pretty good about that.”
With four former skips on the same team you might think it would be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. That was a concern for them initially, but that hasn’t been the case so far.
“All of us are pretty laid back,” Meilleur said. “I know everyone said that we would maybe have a hard time because we’re all skips, but we’re all pretty easy going skips. We’re not my way or the highway type people.”
“None of us have super dominant personalities and we have a lot of trust amongst each other and we really support each other,” Birchard said. “So it’s been easy to let Kerri take the reigns on the strategy and just kinda follow suit and support her.”
“They were great skips at one point too,” Einarson said. “And so I definitely take their opinions.”
With Jennifer Jones getting a direct berth to the national Scotties as the defending champ, and the provincial Scotties being held in their home rink in Gimli, Team Einarson will be one of the favourites at provincials come January.
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